Una carta abierta a Das Williams

 

25 de Julio, 2012

Asambleísta Williams,

En un correo electrónico a nuestro colectivo (enviado el 17 de julio) afirma que usted “piensa” que nuestro objetivo principal, al exigir su voto para AB 1081 – la Ley Trust Act de CA, “es declarar victoria y conseguir publicidad para nuestro colectivo.” También proclama que nuestro comunicado de prensa indica que no queremos un diálogo.

Por favor no nos malinterprete, nuestra única prioridad es llegar a soluciones positivas para nuestra comunidad. Nuestra postura está clara e irrefutable: exigimos un fin a los abusos que se están produciendo como consecuencia al programa Comunidades Seguras (S-Comm) y la colaboración Policía-Migra. Cualquier diálogo que no nos acerque a estos objetivos es un desperdicio de nuestro tiempo. Nos enfrentamos a usted como un legislador serio, un miembro de la Asamblea Estatal, y un representante elegido que finalmente es responsable ante la opinión pública. Como tal, tenemos la expectativa básica de que tome en cuenta lo siguiente:

En los últimos años hemos sido testigos de que los agentes de policía en todo el país están obligados por el gobierno federal a comportarse como representantes de Inmigración y Aduanas (DHS-ICE) por el programa S-Comm. En ausencia de una reforma política de inmigración a nivel nacional, S-Comm ha resultado desastroso para las comunidades de personas indocumentadas, al igual que ha saturado nuestros barrios con angustia y terror. Policías ventajistas cuentan con una licencia libre para detener a residentes indocumentados usando pretextos erróneos y con pleno conocimiento de que órdenes de detención por ICE (“detainers”) posteriormente llevarán a su deportación. Consecuentemente, 72,000 californianos han sido deportados como resultado de este programa mal concebido.

Desde la introducción de S-Comm, se le ha prohibido a recintos y condados en todo el país  que opinen acerca de la administración de este programa. Las protestas de los departamentos policiales y los organismos legislativos contribuyen al testimonio en contra de S-Comm, y exponen que se ha dañado la confianza del público al lograr que personas indocumentadas eviten todo contacto con la ley. Como reconoció públicamente el ex-jefe de policía de Los Ángeles, William Bratton, “una persona que denuncia un crimen no debería temer ser deportada, pero este temor es real y palpable para muchos de nuestros vecinos inmigrantes.” Incluso, víctimas de casos de violencia doméstica y testigos de crímenes han sido sometidos a un proceso de deportación como resultado de la aplicación ciega de S-Comm.

En una entrevista con KEYT usted declaró: No siento que deba votar a favor de una ley que impida la participación de California en el programa de Comunidades Seguras (S-Comm),” implicando que S-Comm es un medio eficaz para la eliminación de los delincuentes de las calles de California. En posteriores mensajes por correo electrónico usted también afirma que la Ley Trust Act de CA podría “impedir que agentes de la Ley detengan a alguien mediante un ‘hold’ y por lo tanto deportar a criminales acusados.​”

La palabra clave aquí es “acusado.” Toda persona tiene derecho a un juicio y personas indocumentadas no son la excepción. Los procedimientos penales son un no-factor en la ecuación de Comunidades Seguras, ya que el derecho a ser presunto inocente no existe cuando los presuntos delincuentes son entregados a las autoridades de inmigración antes de ser representados ante la corte. En esencia, su argumento le da la razón al acusador y equivale el acusado con el condenado. Residentes indocumentados mantienen el derecho al debido proceso de la ley—que nos asegura la enmienda 5 de la Constitución de los EE.UU.—y no deben ser sometidos a un criterio jurídico distinto en el cual los derechos y las protecciones constitucionales no existan.

En una carta reciente también afirma que “hay aspectos del proyecto de ley que yo apoyo,” pero que “hay otros que me preocupan – impediría que agentes de la ley detengan a un criminal que pueda pagar la fianza, sea liberado, posiblemente regresar a la comunidad para aventar más daño a las victimas [sic].”

Sin embargo, la Sección 7282.5 de AB 1081 establece lo siguiente:

Un individuo no puede ser detenido por un oficial de la ley a base de un “hold” de inmigración si es elegible para ser liberado de custodia, a menos de que en el momento en que el individuo sea elegible para ser liberado se cumplan las siguientes condiciones:

(A) El individuo ha sido condenado de un delito grave o violento, a base de una verificación de antecedentes o documentación proporcionada al oficial de la ley por Inmigración y Aduanas  de los Estados Unidos.

Basándonos en su argumento, lo anterior no es suficiente para garantizar que los criminales violentos se mantengan lejos de nuestras calles. 7 de cada 10 de los 72,000 californianos deportados bajo S-Comm no tienen ninguna condena o tienen solamente delitos menores. No existe una “crisis” o “epidemia” de crímenes violentos en las comunidades migrantes de nuestra región que puedan justificar este radical e indiscriminado “daño colateral.”

Otro motivo de preocupación con S-Comm es su impacto fiscal en nuestra comunidad. California tiene costos desproporcionados asociados con S-Comm y, con los actuales problemas de presupuesto, no deberíamos seguir asumiendo estos cargos. Según las estadísticas federales para el Condado de Ventura, en 2009 los inmigrantes sirvieron 78,376 días en la cárcel con un costo de $126 dólares por persona, alcanzando un total de $9,875,376 dólares solamente para nuestro condado. Sin embargo, el Programa Estatal de Asistencia Penal de Extranjeros del Departamento de Justicia (SCAAP) sólo rembolsó $1,173,128 dólares – solamente el 12% del costo total. Esto es debido a que los re-embolsos de SCAAP sólo son disponibles para delincuentes extranjeros que son condenados. Además, las cifras mencionadas no toman en cuenta los costos tecnológicos asociados con la ejecución del programa.

En su conjunto, S-Comm es un atentado contra la paz en nuestra comunidad y su bienestar, y es una agresión en contra nuestros derechos. Lamentablemente, el gobierno federal no ha demostrado su voluntad en dirigirse a estas preocupaciones por el abuso que se ha llevado a cabo durante tanto tiempo. La Ley Trust Act de CA busca solucionar estos problemas a través de la protección de nuestros derechos garantizados por la constitución, incluyendo: una audiencia justa en la corte, protección contra la discriminación racial y los falsos arrestos, la protección de niños y sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica, el mantenimiento de la transparencia en el gobierno, y el derecho de organismos locales de optar por no participar en el programa. Sin embargo, usando una expresión por uno de nuestros compañeros, sus preocupaciones en contra del Trust Act de CA, “equivalen a rechazar un BMW porque tiene una tuerca defectuosa.”

Asambleísta Williams, usted ha demostrado que apoya legislación progresista—incluyendo
limitaciones para los retenes en Santa Bárbara, apoyo al Dream Act de CA y protecciones para los trabajadores. Mientras que agradecemos su apoyo a nuestras comunidades en estos casos, es nuestra firme voluntad que continúe en este camino. Su apoyo para S-Comm es un asunto de grave importancia ya que podría socavar sus esfuerzos en el pasado por establecer solidaridad con los habitantes más vulnerables de nuestro estado. Sus declaraciones apoyando S-Comm han cruzado una línea roja para nuestra comunidad, pero no es demasiado tarde para deshacer una parte del daño que esto ha causado.

Es de grave importancia, tanto local como nacional, que elija el lado correcto en esta lucha histórica de los derechos civiles. Debemos enviar el mensaje claro de que California ya no tolerará la detención injusta y abusiva (y la deportación) de residentes que respetan la ley. Además de ser una simple cuestión de decencia humana, consideramos el voto a favor de la Ley Trust Act de CA una pequeña prueba de que nuestros representantes elegidos en verdad tienen nuestros mejores intereses en mente. No nos queda más que exigir, en el lenguaje más fuerte y directo posible, que vote “Sí” a la Ley Trust Act de CA cuando llegue a la Asamblea del Estado.

Atentamente,
Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo

An Open Letter to Das Williams (D-35th District)

An open letter to Assemblyman Das Williams, in response to the points raised in his emails to the Collective. This was submitted to a representative of Das today, July 25.

 Assemblyman Williams,

In your private e-mail to our collective (sent on July 17) you claim that you think that our primary objective in demanding your vote for AB 1081, the CA Trust Act “is to declare a victory and get publicity for the collective.” You also state that our press release did not indicate that we want a dialogue.

Please don’t misunderstand us; our only priority is to arrive at positive solutions for our community. Our stance is clear and unequivocal: we demand an end to the abuses which are occurring as a result of the Secure Communities Police-Migra partnership. Any dialogue that fails to further these goals is a waste of our time. We’re addressing you as a serious lawmaker, a Member of the State Assembly, and an elected representative that is ultimately accountable to public opinion. As such, we have a basic expectation that you consider the following:

In recent years we’ve witnessed police officers across the country being forced by the federal government to behave as proxies for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE) under the “Secure Communities” program (S-Comm). In the absence of immigration policy reform on a national level, S-Comm has resulted in disaster for undocumented communities, saturating our neighborhoods with nervousness and fear. Rogue police officers have been granted free license to arrest undocumented residents on faulty pretexts with full knowledge that ICE “detainers” would subsequently lead to detention and deportation.  72,000 Californians have been deported as a result of this ill-conceived program.

Since S-Comm’s introduction, precincts and counties across the country have had virtually no say in its administration. Protests by law enforcement agencies and legislative bodies have testified to the fact that S-Comm has damaged public trust and resulted in undocumented communities avoiding all contact with law enforcement. As former Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton said, “a person reporting a crime should never fear being deported, but such fears are real and palpable for many of our immigrant neighbors.”  Even domestic-violence victims and witnesses have been subject to deportation proceedings as a result of the blind application of S-Comm.

In your interview with KEYT you stated, “I don’t feel like I should be voting for a law to stop California’s participation in Secure Communities” implying that S-Comm is an effective means of removing criminals from California streets. In subsequent e-mails, you also state that the CA Trust Act may “prevent Law enforcement from placing a hold and therefore deporting accused felons.”  

The key word here is “accused.” Everyone has a right to a trial and undocumented immigrants are no exception. Criminal procedures are a non-factor in the Secure Communities equation; the presumed innocence of the accused is circumvented when criminal suspects are turned over to immigration authorities prior to representation before court.  Your argument essentially gives the benefit of any doubt to the accuser and equates the accused with the convicted.  Undocumented residents still enjoy the rights to Due Process assured by Amendment 5 to the U.S. Constitution; they shouldn’t be held to a different legal standard whereby constitutional rights and protections do not apply.

In a recent letter you also state, “There are aspects of the bill that I support,” but that “There are some that I have concerns – would it prevent law enforcement from holding a felon who can post bail, possibly going back to the community and inflecting more harm to victims [sic].

However, AB 1081 Section 7282.5 states:

An individual shall not be detained by a law enforcement official on the basis of an immigration hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from criminal custody, unless, at the time the individual becomes eligible for release from criminal custody, both of the following conditions are satisfied:
(a) The individual has been convicted of a serious or violent felony, according to a criminal background check or documentation provided to the law enforcement official by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement…

Based on your argument, the above isn’t enough to guarantee that violent criminals would be kept off of our streets. 7 out of 10 of the 72,000 Californians deported under S-Comm have had either no convictions on their records or only minor offenses. There is no major “crisis” or “epidemic” of violent crime or felonies in the immigrant communities of our region that can justify such sweeping and indiscriminate “collateral damage.”

Another cause for concern with S-Comm is its fiscal impact on our community. California pays disproportionate costs associated with S-Comm and cash-strapped local governments shouldn’t be expected to shoulder these burdens. According to federal statistics for Ventura County, in 2009 immigrants served 78,376 days in jail at a cost of $126 per individual. This totaled $9,875,376 in costs for our county alone. However, the Justice Department’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) only disbursed $1,173,128 in funding – a mere 12% of the total cost. This is due to the fact that SCAAP reimbursements are only available for convicted criminal aliens. The above numbers do not take into account the technological costs associated with the implementation of the program.

Taken as a whole, S-Comm represents an attack on our community’s peace and well-being and is an aggression against all of our rights. Unfortunately, the federal government hasn’t shown a willingness to address these long-standing concerns relating to the abuses that have taken place. The CA Trust Act seeks to remedy these problems through protections of our constitutionally-assured rights including a fair hearing in court, protections against racial profiling and pretextual arrests, protection for children and survivors of domestic abuse, the safeguarding of government transparency, and the right of localities to opt-out of the program. However, as one of our comrades stated, your expressed concerns about CA Trust are “the equivalent of not wanting a BMW because it has a chip on a lug nut.”

Assemblyman Williams, you have an established record of support for progressive legislation including setting limitations on checkpoints in Santa Barbara, backing the CA Dream Act, and upholding protections for farm workers. We are grateful for your support of our community in these instances, and it is our firm desire that you continue on this policy track. However, support for S-Comm is a matter of grave concern that undermines your past efforts to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable residents of our state. Your statements in support of S-Comm have crossed a red line for our community but it isn’t too late to roll back some of the damage that this has caused.

It is of local and national importance that you choose the right side in this ongoing historic civil rights fight. We must send the clear message that California will no longer tolerate the unjust and abusive detention, and deportation, of otherwise law-abiding residents. In addition to it being a simple matter of human decency, we consider the CA Trust Act vote to be a minimal test of whether our elected representatives truly have our best interests at heart. We have no choice but to demand, in the strongest and most forthright language possible, that you vote “Yes” on the CA Trust Act when it reaches the State Assembly.

Sincerely,

Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo 

Das Williams – Emails to the Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective

Private email sent to the Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective by Das via Facebook on July 17 :

I am with you on so much, including talking with Gil Cedillo about tackling the unlicensed driver issue before he leaves the legislature in Sept. However, Your press release does not seem to indicate that you want a dialogue. In fact, it makes it very difficult to consider your position. Now, even if you convinced me it’s good policy, I would look like I’m caving to your accusations of lying and worse. Not a great method.

In fact, the press release makes me think your primary objective is to declare a victory and get publicity for the collective. You shield have someone outside this read it, see how it comes across.

An email relayed to the Collective via Pieter Turley on July 21: 

This is what happened when I reached out to James Joyce III, Das’ field rep, to have a discussion with him about where Das Williams stands on the TRUST ACT.

This is the response I received from Mr. Joyce:

Pieter, 

Both Das and I appreciate your support. Wanted to drop you this message from Das on his stance. Please let me know if you have any questions, there seems to be a lot of mis information out there. Das never voted against the Trust Act, the last time he had a chance to vote on this legislation was May 2011. The next time will be in Aug. Some things have changed since then. 

From Das: 

Personal attacks have been launched against me because I have some questions about a piece of legislation moving through the legislature. When AB 1081 was before me in 2011 I did not vote for it because I had concerns about the ability for law enforcement to place felons in ICE holds. There are aspects of the bill that I support – anti-profiling; protection for witnesses and victims of crimes by others. There are some that I have concerns – would it prevent law enforcement from holding a felon who can post bail, possibly going back to the community and inflecting more harm to victims. I am reviewing the new language in the bill and the data that shows local communities have abused the ICE hold process and want to talk to my constituents about the bill. In the end, we may not agree but to do my job I must review all aspects of the legislation that comes before me.

I supported the Dream Act, I voted for SB 126 that gave protections to agricultural workers, I have marched in solidarity with immigrant groups and I have always had an open door to my constituents. I didn’t embrace this philosophy late in my public service. When on the Santa Barbara City Council I supported limiting check points and worked with other councilmembers to make Santa Barbara a safe city for all residents.

Let me be clear, I want to see anti-profiling and victim protection while ensuring that those guilty of hurting our community do not have the opportunity to do it again.